Silicon Valley’s Peter Thiel Finally Cuts Ties with Y Combinator

Peter Thiel APCarolyn Kaster
AP/Carolyn Kaster

Silicon Valley’s Peter Thiel has finally cut ties with the Y Combinator investor fund, a year after being called a Silicon Valley traitor for his $1.25 million campaign contribution to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

As Breitbart News has reported, the left has run an aggressive Internet retaliation campaign against Thiel over the last year to get him dumped as a board member of Facebook and a venture capital advisor to Y Combinator. The effort has partly been led by Ellen Pao, who lost her 2015 gender discrimination and retaliation suit against the prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers.

Thiel is a legendary entrepreneur who co-founded the wildly successful PayPal and Palantir. But he is also one of the greatest early “angel” venture capitalists, providing early-stage funding of such Silicon Valley “unicorns” as Facebook, Airbnb, Stripe, Spotify, SpaceX, Lyft and many more. He has also helped numerous companies and mentored many of Silicon Valley’s top entrepreneurs. With a net worth of $2.6 billion, he is the 15th-youngest individual on the Forbes 400 list of the world’s richest individuals.

But Pao, speaking through her organization “Project Include,” stated that “we struggle to rationalize Peter Thiel’s power and influence as he moves further and further out there. We were confused by his seasteading funding, angered by his negative views on women’s voting rights, amused by his reported fixation with living to 120, and annoyed by his keynoting the Republican National Convention” (original links). After Thiel’s donation to Trump, Pao wrote, “this isn’t a disagreement on tax policy, this is advocating hatred and violence.”

Project Include has also been calling on consumers, job candidates, partners and other fellow progressive travelers to retaliate against Thiel’s friends and business associates by ending relationships with any organization with which he is associated.

Silicon Valley applauded Y Combinator when president Sam Altman recruited Thiel in 2015 as one of the startup accelerator’s “part-time partners” in 2015. Y Combinator’s 1,450 early-stage VC investments included Dropbox, Airbnb, Coinbase, Stripe, Reddit, Zenefits, BuildZoom, Instacart,, Machine Zone, Weebly, Paribus, and Chinese startup Raven Tech. The combined market capitalization of YC companies is estimated at over $80 billion.

Altman defended the company’s relationship to Thiel in October 2016 by tweeting that he was “not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee.” He added, “Diversity of opinion is painful but critical to the health of a democratic society.”

But in January, Y Combinator recruited the American Civil Liberties Union as an advisor on immigration, after the group had successfully stopped President Trump’s ban on immigrants from certain nations. A Y Combinator blog post about the decision stated that the ACLU will have “full access to the Y Combinator network and community, and they will present at Demo Day in March.”

Neither Peter Thiel nor Y Combinator has responded to press inquiries on the change.



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